Monday, 11 February 2013

# 324 Fish pastries

These fish pastries or rissoles are very popular in Portugal, you'll find them in most cafés where they are sold as savoury snacks or as part of a meal usually with white rice and a salad.

Mum makes them often and they are perfect to take on a picnic or in a packed lunch. The filling may vary, you can use meat, fish, or seafood (usually prawns but other shelfish is also used.) These pastries are not difficult to make but they do take time which is why when people make them they usually make 2 or 3 dozens which they then freeze. Then as the need arises, they are taken out of the freezer, defrosted and fried in hot vegetable oil.

Smoked fish is not much used in Portugal, in fact I think the only smoked fish you'll find in most supermarkets is smoked salmon but I love the taste and so decided to add some to my pastries. If you're making these, you can use only white fish if you want and maybe add a prawn or 2.

Fish pastries


150ml water
100ml milk
Rind of a lemon
50g butter
300g plain flour
Pinch of salt

Fish filling

2 white fish fillets
2 smoked fish fillets
A little milk
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon butter
Chopped parsley
Pinch of salt
2 beaten eggs
Vegetable oil for frying

Start by making the pastry.

Pour the water and milk into a pan, add the lemon rind, pinch of salt and butter. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat, remove the lemon rind and add the flour in one go stirring energetically with a wooden spoon mixing it until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball.

Tip the pastry out of the pan and knead for a few minutes until smooth and cooled a little. Be careful at this stage though as the pastry will be very hot. Wrap in clingfilm and set aside while you prepare the fish filling.

Pour some milk into a pan, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Cut the fish fillets into chunky pieces and add to the milk with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the fish looses its rawness.

Remove the fish from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Let the milk cool a little before adding the cornflour and the butter. Stir constantly over a low to medium heat to thicken, you want a really thick white sauce.

Break the fish with a fork and add to the white sauce with a little chopped parsley, mix well and remove from the heat. The photo below shows you the sort of consistency you should aim for.

Let this mixture rest for about 30 minutes so it firms up a little.

Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible without overdoing it. It needs to hold its shape once you've sealed the filling inside.

The way I do this is I roll out the pastry once or twice and then lift it up and turn. Roll out again, lift it up and turn. You don't need to flour the work surface.

With a teaspoon place small portions of the filling on the pastry, fold it up so it covers the fish mixture and cut into a half-moon shape with the help of a round cookie cutter.

 It's best not to cut the pastry too close to the filling as it will open up during frying and make a mess.

Pinch the pastry gently all the way around to make sure it's sealed. Dip each pastry in the beaten eggs, then in breadcrumbs, pat gently to remove any excess of breadcrumbs and fry in vegetable oil making sure the oil is not too hot. Fry the pastries until golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and serve.

These are good warm or cold, preferably on the same day while they're crispy. I served mine with white rice and a lettuce salad.



Note - To freeze, dip each pastry in the beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, pat gently and place them in a food container lined with kitchen paper and preferably with a lid. It's best to freeze only 6 or so per container,  then defrost at room temperature and fry.